A high-profile figure's criminal record will remain
untarnished and his name will stay secret, despite admitting
assaulting his young son.
The man was granted permanent name suppression when he
appeared for sentencing in Auckland District Court yesterday
after assaulting the 9-year-old last September.
The case has highlighted the line between parental control to
prevent harm to a child and excessive force resulting in
The man's lawyer, barrister Paul Davison, QC, told the court
his client had completed violence prevention and parenting
courses and was therefore entitled to be discharged without
This was granted by Judge Eddie Paul.
According to police charge sheets, the assault happened at
the man's mansion in an upmarket Auckland suburb.
At a hearing in April, which could not be reported earlier
for legal reasons, the man's lawyer said the child had a
history of verbal and physical violence.
On the day of the assault, the father had driven his son home
from school. The boy was upset about staying with his father
and locked himself in a room in the house. The father
unlocked the door and restrained the boy because he feared he
would jump out of a window.
The child then fell to the ground, striking a heater and
injuring his back. Photos of the injury were presented in
His mother subsequently took the boy to a GP and alerted
police. The man was charged with assault on a child under 12
years of age - later reduced to a summary offences assault.
Mr Davison said his client would plead guilty to spare his
troubled son from having to give evidence, and the intention
to "restrain and prevent self-injury or harm" was a
"justifiable use of force".
But police prosecutor Brent Thomson argued the incident
involved "an excessive use of force in parental control"
which justified a criminal charge.
"It's not a calculated assault on a child. It's the excessive
use of parental control."
Judge Paul told the April hearing the picture presented was
of a "troubled young boy".
The assault involved "pushing and holding down and bruising".
The seriousness increased "because it was a 9-year-old and
injuries were sustained".
"There is a fine line between restraint to prevent self harm
and in effect an assault, which cannot be justified," he
said, before granting suppression orders which indicated that
effectively there could be no reporting of the case.
Arguing against the suppression order yesterday, Sam
Hiebendaal, for APN News & Media, owners of APNZ and the
New Zealand Herald, said it was not in the District Court's
jurisdiction to impose such a far-reaching ban and the case
could be reported without identifying the man or his victim.
Judge Paul clarified his previous order, saying it should
only extend to identification of the man and the victim.
The order was intended to protect the boy, he said.
University of Auckland associate law professor Bill Hodge
said the man was "pretty lucky" to be discharged without
conviction and keep his name secret.
"He's done pretty darn well. He's had to go through the
[family violence] training so he would say ... he has paid
for it in that way. But his passport won't be tainted, his
foreign travel won't be tainted and he hasn't got a
conviction to report to future employers."
Mr Hodge "begrudgingly" accepted the judge's decision to
grant the man name suppression to protect the victim.
"What complicates it is ... they're enjoying a reputation
that they perhaps do not deserve. They do deserve to be
identified and that's a powerful thing, but even more
powerful is the ace of trumps - the child's identity."
Sensible Sentencing Trust spokesman Garth McVicar accepted
the man's name being suppressed to protect the victim but
said people in the public arena were more inclined to get
- By Matthew Theunissen and Lane Nichols of APNZ